Thursday, November 14, 2013

Flux for Research Administrators

About This Talk

This talk was given at the 2013 University of Michigan CyberInfrastructure Days conference.

Administrative and related support activities are needed for researchers to successfully plan for and use Flux in their projects.
This presentation describes Flux and how the use of Flux by researchers is planned for, acquired, and managed.
The information presented here is intended to help you to better support the proposal or other planning process and manage or track Flux use.

What is Flux in Terms of Hardware?

Flux is a rate-based service that provides a Linux-based High Performance Computing (HPC) system to the University of Michigan community.
It is a fast system. Its CPUs, internal network, and storage are all fast in their own right and are designed to be fast together.
It is a large system on campus. Flux consists of 12,260 cores.

Flux Services and Costs

Table 1: Monthly rates for Flux services.
monthly rate
standard Flux $11.72/core
larger memory Flux $23.82/core
Flux Operating Env. $113.25/node
GPU Flux $107.10/GPU
The size and duration of a Flux allocation determines the cost of the allocation. The number of computers added to the Flux Operating Environment determines the cost of the installation.

Planning to Use Flux

Planning for using Flux is done by estimating usage needs and considering the limits or availability of funding.
Using Flux is more flexible than purchasing hardware. Allocations can be adjusted up or down or kept the same over the duration of a project.
There are two approaches to planning for the use of Flux:
  1. Determine the amount of Flux resources your research will need and create a budget to meet that demand.
  2. Determine how much Flux time and cores you can afford on a given budget.

Understanding Flux Allocations, Accounts, \\ and Projects is Important

A Flux project is a collection of Flux user accounts that are associated with one or more Flux allocations.
A Flux project can have as many allocations as you wish.

Instructions for Research and Other Administrators \\ During the Planning Process

Administrators should confirm, as necessary, that the grant writer has done what he or she needs to do.
Grant writers need to make sure their computing needs are suitable for the use of Flux, estimate the Flux resources that are required for the project, describe Flux in the proposal, and prepare the information needed to complete the Flux PAF Supplement form.
The administrator sends the completed Flux PAF Supplement to, and attaches the returned and approved Flux PAF Supplement to the PAF packet.

The Flux PAF Supplement

The completion and the review of the Flux PAF Supplement are important steps in the Flux planning process.
Being able to fill out the Flux PAF Supplement is a good self-check for having completed a good planning process.
The review of the Flux PAF Supplement allows the Flux operators to do some system planning. In some cases you may be asked for some clarification.

Using Flux

A Flux User Account and a Flux Allocation are needed to use Flux.
A Flux user account is a Linux login ID and password (the same as your U-M uniqname and UMICH.EDU password).
Flux user accounts and allocations may be requested using email. (See

Monitoring and Tracking Flux Allocations

Historical usage data for Flux allocations is available in MReports (
Instructions for accessing data in MRreports are available online (
Billing is done monthly by ITS.
Flux allocations can be started and ended (on month boundaries). Multiple allocations may be created.

More Information is Available

Look at CAEN's High Performance Computing website:
Look at ARC's Flux website: